Throughout my life I have often been unable to answer the question, “Do they celebrate that in Mexico”? With so many holidays throughout the year I’ve had that very same quandary myself.
Of course certain American National holidays like 4th of July and Presidents Day are exclusive to these United States while Mexico celebrates the anniversary of their own independence and has their own set of national holidays.
Others that are founded in the Christian tradition are also pretty obvious as those who colonized the Americas from one end to the other were all Christian. Of course, as demonstrated with Christmas, the extent to which these events are celebrated may vary.
There are some holidays that one might think are great big festivals in Mexico (like Cinco de Mayo), but they are not. And then there are those that fall in to a gray area. Canada celebrates Boxing Day but we don’t. We celebrate Labor Day and Valentine’s Day, one a secular holiday and the other a semi-Christian holiday, but what about other places?
The simple and boring thing to do would be to make a list of all the holidays that are celebrated both here and south of the border but no one wants that. Instead, how about we just look at a couple of the ones that come to me off the top of my head?
Valentine’s Day happens to be one of those special occasions that comes into question and, as a matter of fact, it is celebrated in Mexico though the emphasis is a little different. Dia del Amor y la Amistad has it right there in the name: Day of Love and Friendship. While there is the romantic aspect of the holiday, where couples make the extra effort to be that much more amorous with one another, the day is also a celebration of platonic relationships where friends may simply do a few extra nice things for each other.
Mexico has a version of Labor Day recognized on the first of May. They also celebrate Columbus Day on October 12th. Is Flag Day a real holiday? I don’t have an answer for you guys on that one but it is on the calendar both here and in the United Mexican States. Because America has exerted such cultural influence worldwide many of our celebrations have been adopted or emulated across the globe.
Unfortunately it doesn’t go the other way quite so much and that’s a shame, because I think we’re missing out on so many potential days off. Mexico has so many more days dedicated to saints than we do; we really only get Saints Valentine and Patrick while they get Antonio de Abad (where you can bring in your animals to the church to be blessed- how has this not caught on in San Francisco or the Upper East side?), Saints Joseph, John the Baptist, and of course All Saints Day.
One on which I get questions every year is Cinco de Mayo. The assumption is that this is a huge, nationwide celebration that unites all of Mexico. This is not really the case. Americans partying on Cinco de Mayo is sort of like if Canadians suddenly started drinking every January 8th to commemorate the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. It is not Mexican Independence Day (September 16th).
I encourage you all to find any justifiable occasion to raise a glass and say “¡Salud!”
Eric Valenzuela has continually transplanted himself, moving from one major city to another. He was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, has resided in San Francisco on two separate occasions (including a stint in Vallejo - the first American city to go bankrupt!), and now comes to you from New York City. Eric defines himself as a graduate student, writer, lover, former inmate, and sarcastic guy who desperately misses In-N-Out Burger and rocketing in his Mustang convertible which was left in California. He likes dogs, rock music, tacos and Italian food. Eric periodically writes in two blogs of his own: Transplanted (http://trans-plant.blogspot.com) and I'm Supposed to be Mexican (http://www.imsupposedtobemexican.com) and now he will also be sharing some of his stories with us at HispanicLA.com.